Using friendly competition to boost performance in your business…

Competition is seen as a natural part of life and work. There is always a creation stage when an idea must compete for its place in the world. You have to compete for a new job. The entrepreneurial stage in business is when the start-up must prove it’s worth and activity is primarily about winning customers without which the product or service will not survive.

But not everybody enjoys competition whilst some people thrive on it. Leaders have to be careful that when they frame competition that it doesn’t create anxiety and negative impacts on people’s wellbeing.

Competition increases psychological and physiological activation and exercised correctly leads to creativity and supportive behaviours. Done incorrectly, competition leads to cheating and sabotage as we’ve witnessed by banks leading to long term pain for the organisation, employees and clients.

Competition needs to lead to happiness not humiliation if you want to get positive outcomes.

Here are some key points to consider.

Compete originates from the Latin Competere meaning to strive together to achieve a common purpose. Chances are that competition was a key driver of human progress along with the peak performance flow states that competition can engender. It is important to remember that humans collaborated their way to the top of the evolutionary tree, probably in friendly competition.

Constraints

Introduce constraints and be clear about boundaries and ethical values that you are all agreed to upholding. Research has shown that saying the Lord’s Prayer before a competition decreased the cheating that took place by a group of students in a test when the answers were easily obtainable.

Open to Feedback

As a leader encourage the right behaviours and attitude by modelling them such as being open to feedback. Also, introduce the concept of ‘After Action Reviews’ so that the focus is on improving the behaviours and processes not just achieving the results. Keep it non-threatening and friendly.

Mutual accountability

Measure team results more than individual results so that the team members are mutually accountable to each other not a manager. Peer pressure is more effective than dominant pressure. We feel more compelled to help our own people more than a person who is not ‘one of us’.

Purpose vs Material

Make competition success about improvement and personal growth, don’t design rewards purely based on money or status. If you introduce monetary and status rewards then it can lead to jealousy and resentment. Peer-to-peer recognition is useful as we do enjoy basking in the limelight sometimes, even the quieter team members.

Excellence

Regularly emphasise that the aim of competition is to encourage the pursuit of team excellence. If an individual achieves great results, that process should be modelled and shared with the other team members.

Team Building

Brain storming sessions, quizzes around work, shared social experiences are all excellent ways to bring people together and build esprit de corps.

Egalitarian

In military special forces units, hierarchy is shunned and people are recognised for their indivdual expertise. They’re not encouraged to be clones but have individual skills. If you promote egalitarianism and appreciation of individual strengths in your organisation, then it will encourage creative teamwork but harnessing that creativity is a skill.

Collective intelligence from a diverse group is just as effective as having a lone genius- and there aren’t many lone geniuses around- so work on boosting team engagement.

With everything that has happened this year and how that will impact us all going forward, when would now be a good time to make facilitating effective meetings, decision-making and learning to use collaboration tools for effective communication and coaching, a core competency in your business?

Interested in learning more? Mission Power meeting Facilitation Online Course

Ownership or Leadership?

Why is ownership so important in team and individual engagement?

With ownership one could argue, the owner’s worldview is to extract value from people working on ‘their’ projects where as, a leader is leveraging the potential of a group of people to co-create value for the community.

Ownership is one of the greatest cons of all time which began around 10,000 years ago. Somehow, somebody, (probably a man) got their hands on some agricultural tech and gained an advantage over others, then leveraged that advantage. This has led to hierarchies, the exploitation of people and the destructive extraction of wealth from the planet with disastrous consequences.

Don’t believe me? Just look around you…

Before that period, as evidenced by observing contemporary hunter gatherer cultures that are still around today, we can see that our Palaeolithic ancestors were primarily egalitarian. Moreover, they were egalitarian for 150,000 years and living in balance with nature. They’ve outlasted supposedly more sophisticated, war-like civilisations such as the Roman, Mongolian and several Chinese dynasties.

Anthropologists have studied dozens of hunter-gatherer societies in remote areas around the world such as Africa, Asia and South America. These tribes lived in small bands of about 20 to 50 people and have many common cultural values. They also maintain peaceful relationships with friends and relatives in neighbouring bands. Warfare was relatively unknown and the dominant cultural ethos emphasised autonomy, non-directive childrearing, communal cooperation and decision-making. It appears we collaborated our way to the top of the evolutionary tree.

On the flip-side, modern history has been the ongoing conquest by dominant warring parties of other smaller bands to form more complex political structures. These societies focus on higher levels of power, wealth and control passing to an elite group at the top and like a Ponzi scheme is unsustainable. Every so often they fail and collapse back down to more sustainable levels. Then when the dust has settled and memories faded they begin the same journey again.

We’re heading towards a global economic and cultural community but that’s a work in progress. In the meantime we’re wrecking the planet with our conquering and exploitative mindset and people’s mental health and wellbeing are suffering as a result. Two decades of war in the middle east to protect the American petro-dollar is a classic example. All those humanitarian and ecological costs to protect the oil industry and American’s hegemony, are externalised onto communities and the planet.

So back to teamwork and leadership.

How does behaviour compare with egalitarian communities and modern workgroups?

Just as we have modern archetypes in the workplace, one could argue they match those of ancient egalitarian people. There are hunters, gatherers, shaman (mostly women originally) and scouts.

Hunters periodically acquired meat as a source of protein, Shamans were the keepers of the wisdom e.g. which berries were edible and which would kill you. Gatherers nurtured others in the community and foraged for edible vegetation and the Scouts would look for new hunting grounds and connect with other communities for marriages and trading.

Today we have Founders who are similar to Scouts as in they challenge old ideas, create new products and champion new ideas.

We have Entrepreneurs who tend to be more risk tolerant, focussed and can drive new ideas into existence similar to the hunter personality.

We have the Gathers who are the supporters and coaches within the organisations.

And the Managers, like the Shamans, are generally the keepers of the wisdom and strive for operational excellence and like to organise for certainty.

But what’s different from the workplace is traditional egalitarian communities maintain social norms that prevent any of the personalities from trying to exploit their position. These are called:

S.T.O.P’s – Strategies to Overcome Power

Hunters didn’t bring home meat then boast about their good fortune and hold the rest of the group to ransom. They didn’t promote silly ideas of greed as some ordained right. Material wealth was shared. Egalitarian communities focus on what George Monbiot calls ‘private sufficiency and public luxury’ the total opposite of what neo-liberal capitalists promote today.

In our evolutionary history we began to resist hierarchy, an ancestral primate social modus-operandi, when we developed the ability to speak. This allowed weaker members to collaborate more effectively, band together and throw rocks at any tyrannical member of the group that tried to dominate them. However, all previous evolutionary and developmental versions of us, are encapsulated within us and if the right conditions occur, people will revert back to being monkeys basically.

They will try to dominate others to get a bigger share of the bananas, and once they’ve got their hands on the bananas, they don’t like letting go.

For business owners and managers this means they have to deal with the psychological effects of the dominance and involuntary defeat systems. These are behavioural operating systems which arise as soon as you introduce hierarchy.

Those with authority and status begin to focus on their position and keeping it rather than doing what’s best for the community. It also increases the likelihood of psychopathology such as Machiavellianism and narcissism (a good example is politics).

Being dominated, triggers our involuntary defeat behaviours which leads us to doing as little as possible for our meagre share of the bananas…Well you would wouldn’t you?

As society has become more polarised between the have’s and the have nots, resentment builds. We’ve seen this with the rise of populism as smart people have tapped into the powerlessness felt by those left behind and motivated them to act in ways which actually don’t serve them but serve the elite…yet again.

Archimedes said:

‘Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I can lift the world’

Well leadership is the lever and humility is the place to stand. If we strive to see leadership as a lever of potential not a badge of office and promote those leadership behaviours throughout the organisation in self managing teams and communities we would probably see engagement increase tremendously. Of course it is not easy to wrestle back control from the baboons so perhaps it would be better to follow Buckminster Fuller’s idea:

‘Don’t fight the existing reality, create a new one which makes the old one obsolete’

So in summary, if you’re prepared to treat people like wage slaves, then by all means carry on, but don’t be surprised if it feels like you’re dealing with monkeys at times. Also accept that people are fed up of being left behind which is how Trump and Brexit happened. They’re also realising that their is an alternative and it’s on the rise.

Employee ownership is attracting tax incentives as it has been seen as beneficial for business and society for many years. When you have this level of ownership then the teams have skin in the game. It’s a great way for entrepreneurs to have a succession plan, because when things are steady, they like to move onto their next challenge whilst leaving a legacy.

Whenever an organisation needs to adapt quickly to overcome greater challenges, they’ve always diminished the influence of hiearchy and moved power to information. I call this the Elite Team Concept, as used by the military and organisations.

Special project teams have been hiding in plain site and showing the way for centuries. The irony is that they’re not elite, they’re egalitarian in nature and focus on doing the basics well. It’s our evolutionary advantage. Imagine if you empowered your whole orgniasation with the elite team concept?

Want to know more?

Check out: The Elite Team Concept Seminar with Complimentary Digital Book

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-elite-team-concept-seminar-with-complimentary-digital-book-tickets-98264771577?aff=ebdssbeac

The next one is Online on February 4th 2021

The Trouble With Values

Values can be quite confusing, and more to the point they’re pretty useless unless you know how to action them in your decision making process.

Overcoming Zoom Fatigue & Enjoying Effective Online Meetings with Mission Power!

With the desire for remote working from home increasing, then becoming a necessity due to Covid-19,

Richard Elwell and I discuss the complexity which makes online meetings an evolution in some ways but also a well-being challenge because it can be so exhausting.

We discuss the Mission Power Meeting Methodology and how this can be used to optimise the technology whilst also leveraging the potential for people to enjoy effective and rewarding online and face-to-face meetings.

THE FIVE SUPERPOWERS OF GREAT LEADERS

Archimedes said, ‘give me a lever long enough and a strong place to stand, and I can move the world’. Well the lever is leadership and the place to stand is humility.

With humility the word leader transforms from a noun to a verb. Leading is something that ordinary people can do to leverage the potential within other people, themselves, a team or a situation. With simple rules of behaviours amongst a group of people comes synergy, where the whole becomes more effective than the sum of its parts.

The following leadership Superpowers are really simple, the challenge for most ‘so-called’ leaders today is having the humility and compassion to want to be great leaders because most are ego-centric as opposed to eco-centric. There are plenty of great leaders out there but unfortunately their results and efforts are overpowered by ego-centric power brokers who maintain the status -quo.

The world needs great leadership and effective teamwork at every level and every corner of the world right now, if we’re to tackle the enormous challenges which have come about by ego-centric leadership that has run rampant supported by delusional ideology and institutions which condones selfish behaviour.

The five leadership super powers:

Listen and clarify: This requires cognitive intelligence and it is a skill which requires the leader to engage in focussed listening, summarising and questioning to ascertain more of the details.

Recognise and reward: A lot of people complain that they’re not recognised at work and in some of their closest relationships. It is often why people may move on from one organisation in search of more rewarding pastures.

Nobody wants to be a widget in the machine, especially since the social contract which kept people subservient in the Victorian era, has been shredded. An effective leader utilises behavioural intelligence to recognises people’s efforts when they’re doing good work and rewards them for their efforts.

Enquire and empathise: This requires the use of compassion and emotional intelligence. With this you enquire how a person is or a team is and you try to intuit how they are feeling so that you can understand their situation more clearly. Often this will mean listening for what isn’t being said, understanding the whole person and what’s going on in their life outside of the organisation, so you can support them.

Challenge and champion: Leaders should be constantly looking for ways to improve the structure and challenge the status-quo. It requires the use of social intelligence to see how the team are operating, the lines of communication, the informal networks and also looking outside to learn new ideas that can be assimilated into the organisation, team or individual. It also involves creativity to come up with new modus-operandi, products and services and then champion those ideas so everybody gets to hear about them.

Knowing what to do and when: Lastly, the leader needs to exercise situational awareness. This includes being self-aware enough to understand their own skills and what they may need to practice more of, but also a leader needs to be able to determine when and which Leader Superpower to exercise to optimise the situation.

Ten Benefits for Implementing the Elite Team Concept in Your Business

Notes: HERE 

For a complimentary digi-copy of my book, ‘From Mercenaries to Missionaries – Designing, Developing & Leading High Performing teams in Your Growing Business’ send a message using the form below:-

From Mercenaries to Missionaries

A favourite quote of mine is Buckminster Fuller’s, “You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.” I’ve been looking for a way to implement this philosophy into my work.

I spent some time with overseas intelligence officers last year, teaching leadership. For amusement I used the opportunity to subversively challenge their worldview under the guise of improving decision-making skills. By challenging them to argue for their enemies’ viewpoint, it soon became apparent that both sides had ideas worthy of consideration. People are complex beings. Ultimately though, the officers realised that after leaving the course, they would hit the paradigm inertia present within consolidated organisations and governments and have to continue working on the assumptions they held before.

So, upon my return I wrote a book called ‘From Mercenaries to Missionaries’. It’s a fusion of

Blank bookcover with clipping path

experience, observations and research whose purpose is to help business owners evolve into leaders who can unleash more of the purpose, passion and potential of the teams in growing businesses. Within society entrepreneurial people are creating wealth by selling products and services. To be successful they have to compete for their place in the Universe and bringing a product to the marketplace often requires a Herculean effort.  I realised by working with business owners, that once they achieve a certain measure of success, they can be persuaded to challenge the present paradigm, much like I did with the intelligence officers.

Businesses usually follow the ‘growth for growth sake’ mentality. This leads to growing teams of people who become less engaged, trading their time for money, constantly in need of a pay rise to maintain the levels of dopamine they get from opening their payslips. It’s the mercenary approach.  It becomes soulless and frustrating working in mercenary organisations as people become widgetized to remove uncertainty. But I help leaders harness the complexity and creativity within the team, not hide from it.

To challenge this paradigm in larger, consolidated organisations, is possible but it meets more paradigm inertia. So, this book helps founders and entrepreneurs develop high performing, intra-dependent teams who can make ecological decision which don’t sink the ship. This then allows the entrepreneur the freedom to solve other more meaningful problems and they can be guided to help their communities thrive too. I would say:

‘Inspirational leadership is ordinary people doing extraordinary things in a constantly shifting world. Leading themselves and, by example, others into a better world for everyone. A world which is environmentally sustainable, socially just, and a personally fulfilling place to live and work’.

Until we change the way we operate in society, I’m on a mission to challenge the entrepreneurial lifecycle helping them become purpose focussed instead of purely profit driven. By unlocking more of the potential of the team’s collective intelligence, organisations can become platforms for developing a new world which makes the old world obsolete.

Martin Murphy

Available on Amazon: http://www.tinyurl.com/ELITETEAMCONCEPT